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be deformed instead of being ornamented. To those children of larger growth, therefore, (to adopt the language of an ingenious essayist,) who amuse themselves with rhymes instead of rattles; who in their love of the play with letters must have fields flowery, beauty beaming, ladies lovely, and in their aspirations after the beauties of alliteration, string and heap the same letters together, must have waves wind their watery way, the blustering blasts blow, and locks all loosely lay,—the treatise spoken of by the correspondent to the Connoisseur is recommended, in which proper directions were to be found for the modulation of numbers for all occasions, and infallible rules how to soften the line, and lull the reader to sleep with liquids and dipthongs; to roughen the verse and make it roar again with the reiteration of the letter r; to set it hissing with semivowels; to make it pant and breathe short with a hundred heavy aspirates; or clog it up with the thickest double consonants and monosyllables ; with a particular table of alliteration containing the choicest epithets disposed into alphabetical order; so that any substantive may be readily paired with a word beginning with the same letter, which (though a mere expletive) shall seem to carry more force and sentiment with it than any
other of a more relative meaning, but more distant sound.
The improper use of this figure is admirably ridiculed and exemplified by Churchill in his following well-known and remarkable verse :
“ And apt alliteration's artful aid.”
Shakspeare has also given some admirable specimens of mock alliterative metre. Thus, the following on Cardinal Wolsey :
“ Begot by butchers, and by butchers bred,
How high his highness holds his haughty head.”
“ With blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broached his boiling bloody breast.”
Also in his “ Ercles' Vein,” as he phrases it :
“ The raging rocks,
With shivering shocks,
Of prison gates,
The foolish fates."
And in his touching allusion to the melancholy lot of those who, while diffusing the rays of science and literature throughout the world, have been struck with blindness :
“ Light seeking light
Hath light of light beguiled," he affords a good specimen of this figure and of the play of words. (m)
THE FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE OF CONVERSATION.
By the uninformed and the inexperienced in literary composition, it is supposed that figurative language is the effort of art and study, adapted only to the higher and more difficult species of composition,—that it is something uncommon or unnatural. But this is by no means the case; for on many
occasions it is the most natural and the most common method of expressing our sentiments ; indeed the customary forms of speech are entirely figurative : figurative language is so common, that “it insinuates itself,” as Dr. Blair observes in his fifteenth Lecture, “ into familiar conversation, and unsought “ rises up of its own accord in the mind. The very words I “ [have] casually employed in describing this are a proof of “ what I say; tinctured, insinuated, rises up, are all meta“phorical expressions." In fact, figurative language is so common in the current phraseology of life, that its application almost passes unobserved. Thus, in the metaphorical expressions «
a hard heart,”—“ a soft temper,”—“ a clear head,”a sound mind,”_" a happy period,”_" a learned age,". a melancholy disaster,"_" a thirsty ground,”—“
an arm of the sea,”—“ stern winter,"_" clouds of smoke,"_“ floods of fire,"_" the light of truth,”—“ a torrent of eloquence,” “ the voice of fame," _“ the flowers of rhetoric,”—“ the trumpet of rebellion,” &c. we scarcely recognize the presence of figurative language. We say also, “ inflamed with desire,” _" incensed by anger,”—“ warmed by love,”—“ swelled with pride,”—“ melted with grief,” &c.; and we talk of “ branches of learning,"_" currents of opinion,”—“ grounds of apprehension,”_" errors exploded,”—“ striking effects,”—“ solid judgments," “ meretricioụs ornaments," flourishing finances,"_“ corrupt administrations,”
6 strait-laced notions,”- -“ doors opened to abuses,” &c. without the slightest apprehension that we are talking in the language of rhetoric. And we call zeal fire, or say, that an angry person is fiery ; and we speak of “a dead sound,”—“ a heart of stone,”" unbridled rage,”—“ deep-rooted prejudice,”—“a tide of passion,”—of “ falling into error,"—of “ bridling the tongue,"
-of“ being plunged into grief,” or over head and ears in love,” &c. without the least recognition or consciousness that we are making use of the language of the accomplished rhetorician.
The current expressions “ to receive a person under one's roof,”—“ to forbid another to enter our door,"_“ to pay so much a head,"_" to be in want of hands,” are synecdoches for to receive into one's house, or to prohibit the entering into it,- to pay so much a man,—to be in want of workmen. In the expression “ he knows” or “ has seen the world,” the word world is a synecdochical term for community; and in the familiar expression “ he has but one shirt to his back," the word back is used by this figure for body. Milton's appellations “ Grim Feature” and “ Grim Visage” are synecdoches for Death ; and the word “ bread” in the Lord's Prayer signifies synecdochically the necessaries of life.
The common expressions “as swift as the wind,”—“ as slow as a snail,”—“ as white as snow,"_" as light as a feather,” -“wet to the skin," as also the usual forms of compliment, are hyperbolical.
“ Firm as a rock,"—“ inflexible as an oak,”—“ fickle as the wind,”—“ unsteady as the ocean,” &c. though the language of current conversation, are similes or comparisons.
The expressions “ livid envy,"_“ torpid despondency,"— “ timorous anxiety,”—“ blood-stained malice,”-“ fire-eyed fury,”—“ dove-like innocence,”—“ fork-tongued malignity,” “ hoary-pated winter,”—“ bright-eyed fancy,”—“ lynx-eyed vigilance," 6 able - bodied perseverance,” “ flights of thought,”—“ vivacity of hope," —“ distraction of suspense,” or “ of distress,"_" the agony of suspense,”—“ the sabbath of repose,”—“ the dismal pageantry of death,” &c. are refe
rable for the peculiar and emphatic vividness of their construction to the agency of the rhetorical figure, vision or hypotyposis.
The familiar expressions “the angry ocean,”—"a raging storm,”—“ the stormy wind,”—“ a furious dart,"_“ ceitful disease," — “a cruel disaster,” — “jovial wine,” &c. are personifications. So when we say “ the ocean roars,”brook murmurs,”—“
_6 the wind moans “ whistles," « the clouds threaten," and the like expressions, we make use of personified forms of speech. And it is by virtue of a personified animation of style, that virtue and our country are spoken of as females, the ocean and the sun as males, &c.
By the euphemism, a hangman is called “ Jack Ketch," a butcher and a tailor « knights of the cleaver and the thimble," and a stealer of dead bodies “a resurrection man.” By the same figure we say “a man is in liquor," instead of saying he is drunk ; that we term a lie “a misrepresentation ;” and say that a crazy person has “ lost his senses is insane,” instead of “ he is mad;" and that we speak of a lazy person as not “noted for industry.”
The current expressions “a glass ink-horn,"_" a sheet of paper,"
“ a wooden tombstone,” an iron copper," “ the feet of a table,”—“ the arms of a chair,”—“ the horns of the moon,” and the terms “a man of war,” for a ship of war, and "a merchantman a barque,” for a trading vessel, are catachrestical. “ He is not a fool,"_" he is not a Solomon “ the wisest in the world,”—“I was not born yesterday," &c. are, by virtue of the liptotes or diminution, figurative expressions for he is wise, I am not inexperienced ; and the apparently contradictory expressions, “come, will you go ?”—“ are you going to stay ?”—“ slow to make haste,"